What is it about the 100th page?

“I tried to like it, but I just got tired of the “Is he dead? Is he not dead?”” That was my friend’s response when I asked her if she liked Ann Patchett’s “State of Wonder”. My friend said, “Read the first 100 pages and see if you like it.”

I laughed when she mentioned the first 100 pages, because I had had a conversation with myself the previous weekend about the 100 page mark. I spent a Sunday planted on the couch completely engrossed in the book “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan. The first 10-20 pages grabbed me instantly, though I found myself getting a wee bit bored until I reached the 100th page. At that point – the 100th page – the story just seemed to take off.

100 Pages (2)Yesterday, while I sat, semi-planted, reading “State of Wonder”, my friend’s voice echoed in my head. I was enjoying the book prior to getting to the 100th page, and I knew I was going to finish the book. Still, I read with an active anticipation of reaching the 100th page. And again, when I reached the 100th page, I found the book seemed to take off.

I have not yet finished the book, but I will finish it. I’m hooked, and I want to know how it ends. Plus, I trust the person who recommended the book to me. I’m looking forward to reading the other book he recommended, and I am curious to see if I find that book takes off around the 100th page mark.

What say you? Do you give books 100 pages to grab you? Or, if you are not jazzed before page 100, do you drop it like a bad habit?

What is it about 100 pages? Is common knowledge shared among writers that readers must be hooked – that the story must take off – by the 100th page?

For the record, I highly recommend Robin Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore”. In fact, I recommended it to my friend who initially recommended “State of Wonder” to me. He is listening to the audio version of it, and I look forward to his thoughts when he is done listening to it. The book is a fun and easy read. I really enjoyed Robin Sloan’s writing style. I look forward to his second novel.

As for Ann Patchett’s “State of Wonder”, I suspect I’ll recommend it. I use the word suspect, because I have yet to finish it. If the ending disappoints me, I may simply re-recommend Sloan’s book.


27 thoughts on “What is it about the 100th page?

    1. Do you find the book picks up around 100 pages, Maxi? I’m looking forward to my next book. I’m afraid I will be very conscious of the 100-page mark from here on out. Blessings to you.

  1. I’ll normally read a book to the end regarless how I feel about it. That was until I started to read a book by one of my favourite authors, Kathy Reiches. I love her books but she wrote one for the YA market and whoa, I couldn’t get past the 2nd chapter. To me it had too much detail that seemed to be slightly over done. That’s me being nice.
    However, I don’t follow the 100 page rule, because as you say yourself, some books are slow to start but can end up as a brilliant piece of work. 🙂

    1. I commend you for reading a book to the end, even if you are not completely thrilled. Seems Ms. Reiches should stick with the adult audience? Though, if the YA book was a success with the YA, then… As I told Maxi, I am going to be super-conscious of the 100-page mark for the next several books. I’m curious to see if that is typically when the ‘magic’ starts to happen, so to speak. It just seemed odd to me how these two books – completely different styles – really took off at the 100 page mark. Thanks for reading, Sarah.

  2. I have dropped books before 100 pages because something else beckoned me…..but I usually eventually make my way back to finish them. Sometimes the ‘not-so-good’ feeling sticks but often it doesn’t. So I do not swear by that rule at all 🙂

    1. I have two books that I have dropped. I want to finish them, and I still think about them frequently. But, they just didn’t pull me in completely, so I’ve moved on to other books that are keeping my interest longer. I will go back to the other two, because I want to know how they end. Alas, there was no 100th page ‘gotcha’. These authors need a 100th page ‘gotcha’! 🙂

  3. It’s good to have friends with good tastes in literature.

    I almost always finish books, even ones that sort of trudge along. I’ve probably only stopped reading a few books midway though in a couple of decades. I guess I always sort of hope that they’ll turn a corner.

    The book I *almost* put down was “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, which I thought had an unnecessarily obtuse introduction and set-up. Of course, when it took off, it really took off, so I was happy to have stuck with it.

    1. You stuck with the books after Dragon Tattoo, too, right? I’ve yet to read those books. Not sure I will.
      And yes, it is very good to have friends with good taste in literature.

  4. I enjoyed State of Wonder. I hope you’ll find it as satisfying a read as I did – all the way to the end. I used to feel compelled to finish every book I started. Maybe it was some kind of feeling of obligation leftover from college. Now I think life is too short. If the story or characters don’t grab me by 100 pages, I put it down. It’s quite rare for me to do that, but it has happened.

    1. It’s funny, the first comments I received seemed to be devout readers, regardless of the book they stuck with it. You and some after you are on the other side, letting a book get dropped if it doesn’t grab you. That’s how it is with me, too. If it doesn’t keep my attention, I’ll let it go.
      I don’t know if there is any truth to my 100 page theory, but I’ll continue researching it.

  5. If I’ve made it through 100 pages, then I’ll finish the book. Even if it’s not that great, I feel like I have to finish it. I know – I’d probably do well to learn how to leave a book unfinished, but it just bugs me. I have finally gotten to the point that I can leave a book but that only happens when I am already really annoyed or bored within the first 50, I’d say. Then I don’t feel invested enough to finish it and I’ll let it go.

    1. I suspect if I reach the 100 page mark and I get to a point after that where I don’t like the book – I’d continue reading. I’ve already invested so much time, I don’t want to quit at that point. But, like you said, I’d more than likely drop the book long before 100 pages, if I wasn’t satisfied.

    1. Well, it’s my own theory, Angel. I don’t know if there is truth. And, like you, some folks won’t give a book 100 pages to grab ’em. I don’t know that I would have thought twice about it had my friend not put the bug in my ear. Now I’m obsessed with the “Well, what happens on the 100th page?” question.

  6. I’m afraid that I don’t have enough patience to make it to page 100. It’s either good in the first few pages (20?) or it’s not. If not .. I’m off to the next thing. Neat rule, never heard of it!

    1. As I told Angel, I don’t know if what I said/wrote is true. I don’t know if there is any science to 100 pages. Plus, I think more folks are likely to drop the book long before 100 pages if they do not like it.

  7. In truly lawyerly fashion, “It depends.” If a good friend has recommended a book, I’ll be more patient with it than if I picked it up at random. I seldom give a book 100 pages, though, even if it’s recommended by a good friend. If my friend Sarah recommends a book, I’ll give it 50 pages, because she’s usually so spot-on with her recommendations. Anyone else probably gets 20-30 pages, with a few exceptions where I’ve realized certain friends and I have 0% overlap in our reading tastes. In these cases, we seem to have stopped exchanging recommendations. 😉

    1. Hahahaha! Stopping the exchange of reading recommendations. Yes, a good thing to do if you continue to read only 20 – 30 pages in recommended books. That’s funny, Deborah. I’m curious about your writing style. I’ve yet to read Monster’s Daughter, but do you think it picks up at or near 100 pages, or does it come out of the gate flying? And, when you are writing, do you have a conscious idea that the book has to take off at a certain point? Things that make me wonder…

      1. What I’ve heard over and over are that the first 10-30 pages (depending upon the reader) are a little difficult to get into, and that it picks up after that. i sometimes regret deleting my original chapters all together. The start would have been a little slower but also easier to follow, I think.

        For my next book (and the third one I’ve halted writing), I’m trying to make it catch from the first sentence. I do think some folks’ll be jarred by the transition from the prologue to the different voice of the remainder of the book, but I hope they’ll be jarred into even greater enjoyment. 😀

  8. Well, I’ve given Melville the first 100 many times over. I once got to the half-way mark of the ol’ whale tale, but I just couldn’t press onward. I resorted to buying Cliff Notes….and this wasn’t even for a class, it was for my own edification. It’s a rare book that I don’t stick with to the end. I’m the same way with movies. I always expect something to grab me by the lapels. I’m currently reading Umberto Ecco’s The Prague Cemetery. I can tell this will be a slog. I’m on about page 60. But, the book was given to me by people whose opinions I respect, so I suspect I’ll keep slogging.

  9. I don’t have your patience. I usually give it a couple of pages, tops, and then jettison the book. I find I just can’t concentrate long enough to read, especially since I started writing. There isn’t room in the day for both, what with working, household, etc., etc., etc.

That was my thought on the matter. Your comment?

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